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Against Pot

946 words / 5:39

bunnies_eating_marijuanaEditor’s Note:

April 20th (420) is celebrated by two groups whose ethos — self-indulgence in one case, sublimity and self-sacrifice in the other — could not be more fundamentally opposed: potheads (“420” being a code for marijuana) and Hitlerites (April 20th being Hitler’s birthday). I am reprinting this article alongside our normal Hitler commemoration hoping to lure in a few potheads and expose them to a more wholesome alternative. 

Translations: PolishSpanish

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Put your bongs down people and listen to me for a few minutes. I want to explain why I think marijuana is one of the most insidious substances known to man from the point of view of long-term self-actualization.

I fell in with some stoners my first year of college. Naturally, they tried to share their vice. But it did nothing for me, and I hated smoking of any kind, so I never got into it.

Years later, though, after I had my Ph.D. and a teaching job, a friend came to visit me and asked where he could get some pot. I said, “There’s a sign down by the record store that says ‘Drug Free Zone.’ I bet you can buy some there.” So we walked to the store. I went inside and bought a Marianne Faithfull CD, and by the time I came out, he had scored some pot. We walked back to my place, and I decided to try it.

Obviously marijuana had become increasingly potent and hallucinogenic over the years, because this time it had a profound effect. We were watching an episode of Alias, and during a commercial, I had an extraordinary experience. I felt that the commercial had expanded into a whole world in which an utterly compelling drama was unfolding. I completely sympathized with our heroine’s struggle to get a whiter than white wash. Her pain was my pain. A 30-second commercial had just moved me as much as an epic drama. “I’ve got to try this again,” I thought.

I had symphony tickets the next day, so my friend and I partook some more, then had dinner at my favorite restaurant. It was the tastiest meal I’d ever had. Then we heard Ein Heldenleben (A Hero’s Life), Richard Strauss’s musical autobiography, with sections on his art, his romance and marriage, his battles with the critics, and his peaceful retirement from the world. It was the most profound musical experience I had ever had. I was completely inside the music. I lived, felt, and understood the meaning of every theme. I particularly got into the romance section, with its musical flirtation, bickering, and lovemaking. I wanted to do a whole Ring cycle on drugs.

On the way home, though, I had the same profound musical experience listening to an utterly insipid pop song on the radio. And before we got home, I wanted to get a snack, so we stopped at a convenience store, and I got a box of crusty, day-old donuts. They were every bit as delicious as the meal we had earlier.

At that point, it dawned on me why the potheads I knew seemed perfectly content to sit around in their pajamas eating Captain Crunch and watching daytime television. If Britney Spears is as profound a musical experience as Richard Strauss, why go through the trouble of appreciating Strauss? If TV commercials can be as dramatically profound as Sophocles and Shakespeare, why strain your brain? If day-old donuts and cold cereal are just as delicious as a skillful chef’s creation, why bother with cooking? If masturbation can be just as enjoyable as sex, then who needs other people? If being a slacker is just as pleasurable as accomplishing something in one’s life, why even get out of bed?

I realized that marijuana had the power to totally destroy my ability to create and grow as a human being. It has the power to turn men into sensuous, swinish philistines. It also robbed me of sleep by inducing fevered, racing thoughts at bedtime. It had completely lost its charms.

Now, I am willing to grant that your mileage may vary. I know couple of highly accomplished people who regularly smoke pot. But these are outliers. I have known far more unambitious slugs. I have also known two people who have destroyed businesses and friendships and their own dignity as human beings through pot-induced paranoia.

I also know there are legitimate medical uses of marijuana, although I would wager that 95% of medical marijuana users are just malingering stoners gaming the system.

Why are so many adults today seemingly frozen at juvenile levels of maturity and taste? The main reason is the dominance of selfish, hedonistic individualism. At the age of 14 or 16 or 18, some people decide that henceforth they are going to satisfy rather than transcend themselves. Thus they seek out only those social relations that affirm rather than challenge their initial preferences. And as long as you can pay, some capitalist will cater to you in your comfort zone. (Bad credit? No credit? No problem!) Hedonistic individualism and capitalism thus make it possible for more and more people to reach 40 or 50 or 60 with their teenage selves still intact.

Marijuana is just hedonistic individualism in herbal form. Self-actualization requires pain and struggle. Virtue is hard not easy. But why worry about that, when marijuana can make you perfectly content with whatever level of ignorance, immaturity, and bad taste that you happen to be at when you take your first hit?

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  1. N.C.
    Posted April 20, 2016 at 8:46 am | Permalink

    Pot is developmentally more dangerous to adolescents and young adults than alcohol.

    ‘Danger’ cannot be quantified and is thus highly relative. The comparative danger of pot and alcohol changes with age. The perils of alcoholism (to be distinguished from irresponsible drinking) seldom manifest in the teens. Physical and psychological dependence on alcohol is far more a problem for adults. But that’s not to say that teens need any help doing extremely dangerous and stupid things, of the sort adults only repeat after drinking too much. Still, the concept that pot poses no danger to youth is one that takes root more easily in a mind that itself bears the scars of teenage marijuana abuse.

    I concede that marijuana can be quite fun and can impart sufficient detachment from the relatively mundane plane of the everyday perspective, that profound truths make themselves clearer, and that the surreal nature of modern mass insanity can be better appreciated. However, to this day I enunciate my opposition to teenage pot use exactly as I did as a rebellious teenager: pot offers a sufficient escape from reality that many youth turn to it as an alternative to confronting the problems that inevitably emerge in any unsheltered late adolescence. The confrontation and resolution of these problems is possibly the biggest step up one takes into adulthood. This is my theory of why those guys we all knew who smoked pot every day beginning at age 16 never grew up (admit it: they didn’t). I concede that the subject is sufficiently complex that I may be overlooking huge factors. Since I’ve maintained the same perspective for the last twenty years, I haven’t thought much about it and might conclude differently if it were to resume the status of an issue in my life, as I hope it doesn’t, since my own children are becoming teens. An alternative theory might be that those guys’ inclination to smoke pot every day, rather than the pot itself, is an early indicator of the sort of men they’d grow into. The first counterexample I can think of in response to this theory is a reflection on the pathetic, sedentary pothead culture of modern German youth. We all have different innate tendencies toward drive, toughness and discipline, but Hitler proved that these could be brought out in any youth given the proper upbringing, one that certainly never involved pot and video-games, or a contemporary analog.

    My position on the danger pot poses to youth circumvents the pot movement’s straw-man argument that only habit-forming and demonstrably ‘physiologically permanent’ drugs are dangerous. I could offer another: that pot desensitizes youth to more than what should be a healthy fear of setting any substance on fire and inhaling its smoke: it desensitizes youth to what should seem gross and beneath them: the degenerate and obnoxious subculture of self-indulgence characterized by delusions that parents and responsible adults are ‘clueless’.

    But the pro-pot straw-man speaks to a major obstacle for educators. Putting it as I did above to teenagers doesn’t work. The concept of proper psychological transition into adulthood is meaningless to them. It doesn’t scare them one bit. There is no convincing teens that it is indeed they who are clueless and not us.

    When I was eighteen, I was invited to speak to a White Student Union meeting at an almost entirely non-white high school on campus, during school hours. Teachers stood at the back of the room nodding their heads as I introduced the students to holocaust revisionism. It was a surreal scene that was deemed appropriate owing to the besieged nature of these kids. Anyway, one of the kids enthusiastically offered another ‘system lie’ as a supporting example: that pot screws you up in ways it really doesn’t. Recalling the ‘just say no’ campaign we were emerging from to have indeed uttered some BS to scare kids, I agreed, but explained that these lies were well-motivated. I explained the impact of pot on psychological development as independent from its impact on memory, that its offer of a alternative to reality was dangerous, that I had observed this first-hand in older friends. They didn’t understand one word. The proof? I later heard through the rumor mill that I had ‘advised kids to smoke pot’ as an ‘alternative to reality’.

    The state is failing us and the answer lies in parenting that carefully balances stricture with liberation, the key to which seems consistent praise of the child’s positive behavior, punishment by disappointment, and most of all, preservation of the child’s respect for the parent. All that said, I’m not so sure the straw man needs circumventing. The studies may show one thing, but we all know there’s something more: functional pot smokers, those guys who hit their pipes on their way to work every single day, seem dumber for it in a way Joe Sixpack doesn’t.

  2. Posted April 20, 2016 at 9:37 pm | Permalink

    What you describe is the problem with all drugs. They’re artificial feelings of wellbeing. They deceptively provide euphoria without earning it.

    A drug like Pot is OK maybe to do once a year over a whole weekend. During that weekend you should do things like go see the Ring Cycle, spend time alone in the wilderness, do something artistic, write in your journal, examine your life’s goals (but make no major decisions), go visit a cathedral, go to an art gallery, have a threesome with some Victoria Secret models. The purpose of the weekend is to look at the world a little differently. Look at the weekend (do it from Friday evening to Sunday afternoon; it should be dark when you start but light out when you stop) like one long liturgical experience.

    But remember that no true “enlightenment” comes from drugs. It’s just a little tool to see the world from a different angle. As Dr. Johnson very sagaciously points out “Self-actualization requires pain and struggle.” If you find you want pot more than just the annual liturgical weekend, then stay away from it forever.

  3. MaryJaneUser
    Posted April 21, 2016 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

    Long time lurker, first time poster….

    I’ve never understood the widespread anti-marijuana bias found on the alt-right. I have smoked marijuana on a daily basis for over half my life and have yet to experience any negative side effects stemming from my usage. I’m a fairly average 31 year old white male (single, middle class income, heterosexual etc.) and I would not be surprised if there were more users whose lifestyle resembles mine than there users who fit into the burnout SJW stereotype.

    Marijuana has been used by Indo-European peoples for thousands of years. It was used for religious purposes in Ancient Greece, Northwestern Europe and Vedic India. The Aryans in modern-day southern Russia were buried with golden bongs!

    Besides, alcohol (which I do not partake in) causes much more degeneracy than marijuana does in the first place.

    • Stronza
      Posted April 22, 2016 at 12:58 am | Permalink

      Wait til you’re 50 years old. You won’t be able to put two coherent thoughts together. Your skin will be gray, and you’ll fly off the handle whenever someone even mildly disagrees with you on anything at all.

    • Leon
      Posted April 22, 2016 at 6:07 am | Permalink

      “I’m a fairly average 31 year old white male”

      That unfortunately isn’t saying much for yourself these days. Perhaps you would be doing more if not for the distraction of weed?

      “Marijuana has been used by Indo-European peoples for thousands of years. It was used for religious purposes in Ancient Greece, Northwestern Europe and Vedic India. The Aryans in modern-day southern Russia were buried with golden bongs!”

      Those people were living lifestyles that were harsher and more difficult than anything the average modern Western man-child could possibly imagine. If you spend each day tracking down and hunting large animals for your family’s next meal, or fending off rival tribes at risk to your own life, all without any effective medicine to soothe the sores on your weary, infected feet, than you certainly deserve some chemical relaxation.

    • findfichte
      Posted April 22, 2016 at 9:00 am | Permalink

      You describe yourself as “average” which goes toward proving the point of this article.

  4. Finn
    Posted April 21, 2016 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

    Pot doesn’t turn you into a lazy junk food eating lefty…Pot just enhances…You can be lazy or active you can be creative or dull…Don’t blame the weed, blame yourself.

  5. MarkD.Hamdingers
    Posted April 21, 2016 at 8:15 pm | Permalink

    Yeah Greg, I agree with the general sentiment; you hit on many of the reasons I stopped smoking pot years ago. But you’re laying it on a bit thick. Potent or not, pot doesn’t usually have the profound effects you’re describing beyond novice use. Plenty of people can suffer the same utter lack of self-actualization without touching the stuff. While very few people I think genuinely benefit from marijuana use, I think you’re discounting the correlation between those easily fulfilled people for whom weed is enough to completely satisfy their longings and who seem to use it to the exclusion of accomplishment and those who were not very motivated to begin with.

  6. Joe
    Posted April 21, 2016 at 8:30 pm | Permalink

    Pot is a wonderful drug to use while contemplating Hitler and white nationalism.

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